White Night Melbourne 2017: Everything you need to know

White Night Melbourne 2017

White Night Melbourne 2017 is tonight, and I’ll be there for UrbanDuniya bringing the action to the world, live on Facebook. So what can you expect?

White Night Melbourne state library


What is a White Night?

White Night is an international series of all-night cultural events, featuring art, music, dancing, light and community. St Petersburg, Russia originally held arts and music festivals on the shortest night of the year, but it wasn’t until Paris held its first Nuit Blanche in 2001 that the concept began to spread worldwide. Nuit Blanche is French for an “all-nighter”, but the words literally mean “white night”.

Melbourne held Australia’s first White Night in 2013, and has held it annually since.

White Night Melbourne


What’s it like?

Big, beautiful and crowded. Between 7pm and 7am the city is alive with throngs of people taking in public art, music and dance. The first one attracted about 300,000 visitors in a twelve-hour period. Numbers have been hovering at around 500,000 in years since.

Attractions in past years have included light projections on Flinders Street Station, a giant glowing lotus floating down the Yarra, galactic images on the dome of the State Library, indigenous dance at sunset, opera in St Paul’s cathedral, a roaming Cuban salsa troupe, tours of the Old Melbourne Gaol at midnight, Bollywood dance lessons in Federation Square, and group yoga by the river at sunrise.

Click here to see my photography from previous years; 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016.

White Night Melbourne church

What’s on where?

The White Night Melbourne website is your friend – click here to see the programme and map for this year’s event. There are 81 attractions spread across 10 city blocks, as well as the Carlton Gardens precinct, and south of the river.

Still Here at NGV International

How can I take part?

The best way is to go to the city! If you can’t make it to Melbourne for White Night, you can view the action online with my live video updates from the main attractions! Log on to facebook.com/urbanduniya and “like” my page to receive notifications when I go live!

Live coverage will be at the following times;

  • Sydney: 7pm – 7am
  • Pakistan: 1pm – 1am
  • India: 1:30pm- 1:30am
  • Perth: 4pm- 4am
  • Dubai: 12noon – 12midnight
  • Tokyo: 5pm – 5am
  • Central Europe: 9am – 9pm
  • London: 8am – 8pm
  • Bangkok: 3pm – 3am
  • Sao Paulo: 6am – 6pm

Videos will be saved on the page, so if you miss any you can always catch up later.

Welcome to Country at Royal Exhibition Building


Tips if you go to the city

Wear comfortable shoes, carry something warm to wear, and pack lightly. There’s a lot of walking involved.

Take a refillable bottle of water, your phone charger, and a camera.

Use public transport if possible – there are extra services running until the morning for many parts of the city (details below).

Be flexible with your night, and don’t be too disappointed if you “miss out” on something – it’s a popular event, and some venues (like the Matt Irwin Gallery) can only accommodate 25 people at a time.

The evening kicks off at 7pm, but the lighting effects really only work after sunset at 8:30. 8pm – 11pm is the busiest period, as most visitors arrive at this time, and it’s ideal for families, so if you want to avoid the crowds you could consider arriving after midnight. Alternatively you can arrive early, visit a gallery or exhibition before midnight, then head to the more popular projections (like Flinders Street) after midnight.

White Night Melbourne foam


How do I get there (and home)?

Public Transport Victoria have released pamphlets about the transport arrangements on the night. Images of these pamphlets are below;

White Night 2017 public transport

White Night 2017 Melbourne public transport map

Click for larger image

For more information, go to ptv.vic.gov.au.

Have you attended a White Night festival somewhere? What was it like? Comment below!

Melbourne’s Best Gelato

Melbourne’s Best Gelato

Along with the Boxing Day test match, the Australian Open, hot weather and White Night, a Melbourne summer simply isn’t complete without gelato. At the start of the Australian winter earlier this year I shared my suggestions for Melbourne’s best coffee spots, and with temperatures on the rise it’s time to see where you can find Melbourne’s best gelato!

1. Brunetti; 380 Lygon Street, Carlton; other locations including City Square


This place divides the critics, but its iconically Melbourne. The concrete tables and steels chairs aren’t that comfortable, so take a seat in the square. The chocolate flavour here is pretty intense.

2. Nitro Lab; 188 Bourke Street, Melbourne

Tiramisu The Lab

This is not gelato in the strictest sense of the word, but it’s certainly fun watching the team of ‘scientists’ inject your black forest gelato cup with a syringe of cherry sauce. So much so that I’ve already reviewed Nitro Lab here.

3. Casa del Gelato; 163 Lygon Street, Carlton

casa del gelato

Boasting up to 60 flavours and an old world ambience, this is where it apparently all started – come here to taste the same gelato that has been served up to adoring Melburnians since 1980.

4. Jocks Ice Creams and Sorbet; 43 Victoria Avenue, Albert Park

jocks ice cream

What this place lacks in glamour, it makes up for in panache. Date flavoured ice cream anyone? Violet Crumble, or Lamington specials on Australia Day? There’s even an Obama-inspired ice cream; peanut butter and jelly!

5. Gelato Messina; 237 Smith Street, Fitzroy; several other locations

gelato messina

This one is a Sydney-based import but it has been adopted by Melburnians with gusto. A seemingly endless rotating menu of creative, often off-the-wall flavours – some are so good, they fall into the “food porn” category. I’ve also reviewed this place before, it has been voted Australia’s best gelato, and the queues are testament to that fact.

6. Gelateria Primavera; 157 Spring Street, Melbourne

gelateria primavera melbourne

This inner city spot doesn’t offer the extensive range of Gelato Messina or Casa del Gelato, but it’s a worthy mention for its quality – the pistachio flavour in particular might just change your life.

7. Movenpick; QV Shopping Centre, corner of Lonsdale and Swanston Streets, Melbourne; other locations

movenpick blueberry cheesecake QV Square

Yep, it’s an international chain, but it’s one of the best. The blueberry cheesecake flavour is everything you had hoped it would be, and the waffle cones are pretty good too. The only downside is the price – it’s not a place to come on a budget.

8. Trampoline; Southgate Shopping Centre, Southbank

trampoline southbank

Vibrant colours, screaming kids – this really is a family joint. But don’t be put off – take your cone over to the riverside and take in the city skyline with the Yarra lazing its way past. While the flavours are quality but mostly run-of-the-mill, there are a few interesting exceptions – caramel pear sorbet, anyone?

What’s your favourite gelato place? Have I missed anything? Comment below!

Beat Hayfever! A guide from Melbourne

Beat Hayfever! A guide from Melbourne

Flinders Street Station, Eureka Tower and a Melbourne Tram

Spring has sprung, and while some of us look forward to longer days and warmer weather, others dread the curse of hayfever that comes along with it.

For anyone who doesn’t suffer with it, imagine feeling like you have a really bad cold for a few weeks, or even months – runny nose, uncontrollable sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, sore throat, sinus headache and generally feeling unwell. Add to this all the extra, peripheral stuff – like feeling irritable, tired and anti-social – and it’s easy to see why hayfever is simply the pits.

Melbourne is said to be one of Australia’s worst cities for hayfever sufferers, a result of a dry and windy climate, and this year is predicted to be one of the worst. As someone who has suffered from hayfever for years, I’ve tried almost every trick in the book, to varying degrees of success. And here is what I recommend – and before we continue, I should mention that this article cannot replace qualified medical advice, it is simply my story of a lifetime of sneezing.



Plane trees in Melbourne (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Plane trees in Melbourne (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

If you can fix your environment, do. Melbourne’s plane trees bring a European-style ambiance to the streets, but are notorious for being hayfever triggers. If you’re moving house, look at which trees are lining your street. If you’ve got one outside your house, don’t open the window in the morning, especially on a windy day. Additionally, check the pollen count each day, and arm yourself with any of the below solutions before you head out for the day.



hayfever medications in Priceline

So. Much. Medicine. I think Australia’s pharmaceutical industry could thrive off my antihistamine intake alone. I don’t like filling my body with medicine, but it does help a lot. Note that my comments on these are not prescriptive, as different people find different medicines more or less useful. Always use these according to the instructions in the packet, or a doctor’s advice.

Tablets – I use Telfast 180, but they also come in weaker “60” and “120” versions. They are the best I’ve found. Zyrtec is not bad, Aerius didn’t do much, and I found Claratyne to be a waste of money. But other people swear by it.

Eye dropsPolytears don’t stop the itching, but they do lubricate and immediately “flush” your eye of any dust particles – I always keep a bottle with me. Livostin are a good first-line anti-allergy option, and Zaditen is also good. When my eyes got out of control (like, weeping from irritation) my doctor proscribed my Patanol – it’s strong, and to remain effective it should be used sparingly, but it works. Stay away from Naphcon-A – initially it works really well, but eyes seem to become dependent on it, making them more itchy when you stop using it. To really soothe your eyes, keep your eye drops in the fridge!

Nasal sprays – All the major brands like Telfast and Zyrtec produce nasal sprays, as do Nasonex, Beconase and Flixonase, but I’ve has the most success with Rhinocort. It’s a preventative measure – it needs to be used regularly (like a therapy, not a treatment), but it seems to stop the worst of the sneezing.


Non-medical treatment

There’s a whole host of things you can do to help your hayfever without turning to medicine – some of them reduce the symptoms, while others simply provide welcome comfort.

Johar Joshanda – This Pakistani miracle herbal mix soothes the throat and clears the sinuses – add one sachet to a cup of hot tea and sip away! Find it in good Pakistani or Indian grocery stores.

Johar Joshanda (Image: Qarshi)

Johar Joshanda (Image: Qarshi)

Peppermint tea – It won’t take away the irritation, but it’s soothing and aromatic – heaven when you’re stuck with the sniffles.

Soy milk coffee -They say you shouldn’t have dairy while you’re streaming mucous from your nose – and that may or may not be wise – but a hot soy latte perks you up and feels somehow more palatable than cow’s milk when you’re all blocked up.

Cool compress – When my eyes are irritated, they almost feel like they’re burning. Slouch down into a sofa, rest your head back, close your eyes and place moist compress over your eyes and brow and let your mind wander elsewhere for 10 minutes – it’s bliss.

Jal neti – This one is a bit hardcore, but if you’re game, it might just work. Another wonder from the subcontinent, Jal Neti is a traditional yogic technique to clear the sinuses. A small ‘neti pot’ with a spout is filled with lukewarm, slightly salty water. Breathe through your mouth, place the spout in your left nostril and lean your head slightly to the right and front. Gently tip the pot up and adjust the angle of your head until the water flows out of the pot, into your sinuses, then drains out of the opposite nostril! Repeat on the other side. Yes, it’s gross, but it sounds worse than it feels, and the relief you feel afterwards is remarkable. Neti pots are available from good health food, yoga and homeopathic stores, and the technique can be researched online and refined – it takes practice. And needless to say, do it in the shower where you can wash away the contents of your sinuses once your done.

My neti pot!

My neti pot!

General comfort

Stay cool – It’s not called hay”fever” for nothing – all that itching and irritation can make you feel hot and bothered. Wear cool, comfortable clothes, especially if it’s warm.

Wear sunglasses – When there’s pollen in the air, sunglasses will deflect at least some of it.

Wash your face regularly – Especially if you are in a dusty or pollen-laden environment, keep your face clean to avoid the risk of rubbing dust into your eyes or nose.

Do you suffer from hayfever? Do you have any tips to beat hayfever this spring? Comment below!

Building Sydney; opportunities of the moment

Building Sydney

Building Sydney logo

Sydney is currently undergoing a huge transformation, with George Street currently dug up to build the city’s new tram line, and the South West Rail Link being slowly incorporated into the wider rail network.

Also in the pipeline are at least two major road projects, NorthConnex and WestConnex. The former has begun construction since I wrote about it 2 years ago. Crucially, it is being built along the ‘purple’ alignment which I pointed out will benefit only certain drivers along Pennant Hills Road, while neglecting the increasingly-congested Pacific Highway. Will the future increase in demand along the North Shore’s only true arterial road necessitate another motorway development? Or will the rise in demand finally force the provision of better public transit options?

NorthConnex's indirect route to the city (Image: Sydney Morning Herald)

NorthConnex’s indirect route to the city (Image: Sydney Morning Herald)

WestConnex is also under construction, covering a corridor with a different traffic profile. The motorway tunnel to complement Parramatta Road is unfortunately not to be built in line with public transport solutions, missing a huge opportunity to revitalise Sydney’s inner west, and repeating the same mistakes of the already-full M5 East.

(Image: WestConnex)

(Image: WestConnex)

Part of the said solution for Sydney’s inner west could easily be the development of the Sydney Metro. While this scheme no doubt has the best intentions, it seems odd that metro-style carriages would be utilised on long-distance suburban routes rather than inner city hops (which they’re ideal for). As I highlighted in my article about the under-construction Metro, this new system could be a godsend for parts of the inner city, no so much for the outer suburbs.

Proposed Sydney Metro (Image: strata8)

Proposed Sydney Metro (Image: strata8)

Public transport is also at the heart of my concerns about the Western Sydney Airport development. The new airfield is still set to open in the mid-2020s without a train link, much less a dedicated train service useful for transferring between Badgery’s Creek and Kingsford Smith airports. What has occurred, however, in a retreat to typically antipodean parochialism, is the suggestion that the new airport should close overnight – much like TV stations used to in the 80s, and replicating one of the main issues with the existing Kingsford Smith facility.

Qantas A380 at Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport

Qantas A380 at Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport

While much of this seems unchangeable now, it is important to remember than the solutions are still very much viable; in each case, public transport stands to improve the livelihood of Sydneysiders and enhance the liveability of the city. What is required at this point is politicians at federal and local, but primarily the state level, to possess the foresight and courage to break Sydney’s cycle of fixing then repeating infrastructure mistakes.

What do you think Sydney really needs for the future? Comment below!


15 best coffee spots in Melbourne!

15 best coffee spots in Melbourne!

One of the best ways to enjoy a cold Melbourne winter is to cosy up inside one of our atmospheric and unique cafes. It’s been a cold and windy end of the week in Melbourne, so there’s no time like the present; here are my 15 favourite places to get caffeinated around Australia’s southern city!


1. Grey and Bliss; 197 Bay Street, Port Melbourne

I love Grey and Bliss so much, I used it in one of my UrbanDuniya promotions!

I love Grey and Bliss so much, I used it in one of my UrbanDuniya promotions!

This place is one of my favourite spots in Port Melbourne – they do a full brunch and lunch menu, the coffee is great, but the friands or almond croissants stole my heart years ago 🙂


2. Dukes Coffee Roasters; 247 Flinders Lane, Melbourne City

dukes coffee roasters

Come for the coffee, stay for the carrot cake! Seriously, there’s not much room to move here, but it’s worth it, and the atmosphere is full of like-minded souls, retreating from the cold.


3. Cam’s, Abbotsford Convent, 1 St Heliers Road, Abbotsford

convent cam's abbotsford convent

Wrapping your hands around the bowl-style mugs in this cafe, set in the converted Abbotsford Convent, is an essential Melbourne winter experience – and if you’re really hungry, you can get your fill at Lentil as Anything in the same building!


4. Manchester Press; 8 Rankins Lane, Melbourne City

manchester press

Winner of several awards, Manchester Press is one of Melbourne’s best known and loved laneway cafes. The rotating menu of bagels, salads and sweets compliments the hipster-style coffee offerings.


5. Entrecote; 131 – 133 Domain Road, South Yarra

entrecote collage

Wake up in Paris with this awesome French bistro. The coffee is delicate and and breakfasts are suitably chic – but you’ll need a booking at weekends.


6. Stand Up Coffee; 524 Flinders Street (rear of building), Melbourne City

stand up coffee

No muss, no fuss – this place truly is a “hole in the wall”, and as the name suggests, you will need to stand up at that hole in the wall while you sip your latte. Very Melbourne. (Closed Sundays)


7. Famish’d; 385 Bourke Street, Melbourne City (and other locations)

famishd collage

Famish’d might be closed at the weekend, but during the week it serves up some of the best coffee in this part of the city – and everyone leaves with a mini chocolate meringue. Try to visit when the Red Velvet Lamingtons are being dished up – you won’t regret it.


8. Patricia Coffee Brewers; Corner of Little Bourke and Little William Streets, Melbourne City


Like Stand Up Coffee, there’s not much room to hang around here – but at least here you get to stand inside! The coffee is perfect, the staff are fabulous and if you make it back here in the warmer months, try the rich cold-drip iced coffee, served without milk and in a flask. (Closed weekends)


9. Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar; 66 Bourke Street, Melbourne City

Pellegrini's coffee

Go back to where it all started – Melbourne’s espresso obsession. Whether it had Melbourne’s first espresso machine or not is a subject of urban legend – but its iconic status can’t be denied. Don’t come here for the cushy service or surroundings – this isn’t glamorous, this is Italian coffee served the traditional way, and they do it very well.


10. RMB Cafe Bar; 37 Degraves Street, Melbourne City

RMB Cafe on Degraves Street

RMB Cafe on Degraves Street

RMB is the pick of the lot on Degraves Street (although Andiamo’s runs a close second) – the location on the corner is perfect for people watching, and there’s a small inside section if you can’t stand the cold. Oh, and they have Nutella donuts.


11. Cup of Truth, 12 Campbell Arcade, Melbourne City

cup of truth

In the arcade below Flinders Street (which was built for the 1956 Olympics, apparently) sits a hole in the wall spot for commuters. Not just an awesome name, Cup of Truth serves great coffee too, as the hordes of weekday commuters will attest. (Closed weekends)


12. Captains of Industry; 1, 2 Somerset Place, Melbourne City

captains of industry

This place is oh-so-Melbourne it makes me want to vomit graffitied trams – and I love it. It’s filled with disused machinery, and also features a barber shop where you can get your hipster beard trimmed. A simple menu, hidden away, but with widows looking over Elizabeth Street, this is the place to take a moment away from the city and let it all sink in.


13. Mart 130; 107A Canterbury Road, Middle Park

mart 130 collage

If the last place made me want to vomit trams, this place actually comes with them. On a terraced tram platform, you can watch the world (and the commuters) go by while tucking into good coffee and french toast smothered with berries and cream. We were offered blankets if we wanted to stick around for the novelty factor, but otherwise go inside the old stationmaster’s building where you can keep warm.

14. Shisha Nights; 255 Swanston Street, Melbourne City

shish nights

If French or Italian coffee is not your style, you might like Shisha Nights, the closest thing the CBD has to an Arabic style coffee-and-hookah bar. It’s smoky, but in a sweetly flavourful way (Anyone who has been to an Arab country would be familiar with the wafting scent of apple tobacco). There’s an espresso machine and a fridge with cold drinks, and unlike other sleek club-like shisha bars in the city, they don’t serve alcohol – the atmosphere is unpretentious and relaxed. (Opens 6pm – 1am)


15. Ponyfish Island; Southbank Pedestrian Bridge, Southbank


This might not be Melbourne’s best coffee, and it’s certainly not the cosiest place to sip your drink (especially when the wind is blowing – so, like, always), but the location can’t be beaten. Before it becomes a bar in the afternoon, they serve coffee in the morning, so in winter its a great place to rug up, take a pen and your diary, and watch the light shift across the moody Melbourne skyline.

What are your favourite coffee spots in Melbourne? Have you been to any of these? Comment below!

Lahore’s best iftars this Ramadan!

Lahore’s best iftars this Ramadan!

We all know that this is at home, lovingly prepared by ammi, and served complete with pakoras, fruit chaat, dahi bhalley and rooh afza! But if you find yourself outside at iftar time, if you’re ready for a change, or if you are hosting a whole bunch of people out of your home, here are the best places to break your fast this Ramadan!

All prices below are for iftar plus buffet dinner, unless otherwise stated.

1. BarBQ Tonight

(Image: BarBQ Tonight)

(Image: BarBQ Tonight)

Falsa juice – after rooh afza, could there be any more refreshing juice with which to break your fast? A variety of salads, barbecued meats, sandwiches and desserts in pleasantly appointed surroundings.

Cuisine: Pakistani barbecue

Cost: Rs. 1500 plus tax

Website: www.bbqtonight.com/lahore


2. Al-Nakhal

(Image: Al-Nakhal)

(Image: Al-Nakhal)

Such flavour, so much food, and so little money! While the prices aren’t bargain basement, Al-Nakhal is the place to feed lots of mouths without emptying your pockets – and without compromising on quality or spectacle.

Cuisine: Arabic, Pakistani

Cost: Rs. 849 inclusive of tax

Website: www.alnakhal.com.pk


3. Smoothie Factory

(Image: Smoothie Factory, Facebook)

(Image: Smoothie Factory, Facebook)

Smoothie Factory offers a great compromise between western fast-food and traditional iftar. Lots of pizza, fries, and of course quality fruit-smoothies and frozen yogurt, but also lots of rooh afza and dates to start off with.

Cuisine: Pizza, burgers, smoothies and desserts

Cost: Rs. 350 per head – choose from two set menus.

Website: smoothiefactory.com.pk


4. Yum

(Image: Yum)

(Image: Yum)

Chinese and Thai for iftar? Why not? Yum offers the regular pakora-style snacks and cold drinks to break your fast, but then follows it up with a full-scale buffet dinner with a limitless supply of all your favourite Pakistani Chinese and Thai dishes.

Cuisine: Chinese, Thai

Cost: Rs. 2150 inclusive of tax

Website: yumpakistan.pk


5. Salt n’ Pepper Village

(Image: Salt n' Pepper Village)

(Image: Salt n’ Pepper Village)

For the uninitiated, Salt n’ Pepper village is actually a warehouse-style eatery where each dish is prepared by individual stall-holders in a ‘village’-style set-up. It’s not cheap, but imagine all your favourite home-cooked dishes being served at once. It’s worth it!

Cuisine: Traditional Pakistani

Cost: Rs. 1680 inclusive of tax

Website: www.saltnpepper.com.pk/lahore


6. Bombay Chowpatty

(Image: Bombay Chowpatty, Facebook)

(Image: Bombay Chowpatty, Facebook)

Cutlets, biryani, dosa and gulab jamun – all the favourite street foods from Delhi, Mumbai and beyond come together at this Indian-style street food restaurant! The sehri is pretty good here too!

Cuisine: Indian street food, south Indian

Cost: Rs. 1099 plus tax

Website: www.facebook.com/Bombay-Chowpatty-Pakistan


7. Namak

(Image: Namak, Facebook)

(Image: Namak, Facebook)

Namak specialises in Afghani and Baluchi cuisine;  you can even sit in a Baluchi-style nomadic tent setting! The Kabuli pulao is really special, and make sure you wash it down with kahwah and gulab jamun.

Cuisine: Afghani, Pathan, Baluchi

Cost: Regular menu prices: expect Rs. 500 – 1000 per head, depending on order.

Website: www.facebook.com/namakrestaurant


Honourable mention: Dera; bring a big appetite – if you order ahead, they will prepare a whole Baluchi sajji for you (entire sheep or goat stuffed with rice and spices then spit-roasted).If you’re dining with less people, you of course can sample any of these delights from the buffet – put on your eating shirt!


For Ramadan recipes, click the image below to find out about my latest book ‘Recipes for Ramadan’; a month of feasting, a life of journeys and a world of flavours!

Recipes for Ramadan cover

Do you have any Ramadan restaurant recommendations? Comment below!

Agness’s Favourite Winter Warmer Drinks!

With this week marking the official start of the Australian winter, Agness Walewinder of eTramping.com and Run Agness Run brings us her favourite beverages to help us get through the coming cold months.

Top 3 drinks to warm you up on a cold day

When it’s cold and dark outside, you definitely need to cozy up to a warm and delicious drink without leaving your place and standing in the line for Starbucks mixers. The good news is … you can make yourself one of these 3 awesome drinks that will warm you up in a second! They are easy and quick to make… and very affordable!


Mocha latte

Mocha latte (Image: Agness Walewinder)

Mocha latte (Image: Agness Walewinder)

A very creamy drink that could be a good alternative for a regular latte.


  • 1/2 mug organic coffee
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 1/2 mug any vegetable milk (soy, almond, rice, coconut)
  • tablespoon unsweetened dark chocolate
  • ¼ teaspoon coconut sugar (if you prefer it sweet)


  1. Brew coffee of your choice (or use one package of instant coffee) and pour into a mug.
  2. Warm milk in a small pot over low-medium heat.
  3. When milk is ready, use an electric milk frother to create foam.
  4. Slowly pour the warmed milk over your coffee.
  5. Stir in one tablespoon unsweetened dark chocolate and ¼ teaspoon coconut sugar.
  6. Serve with a cookie!


Pumpkin juice

Pumpkin juice (Image: Agness Walewinder)

Pumpkin juice (Image: Agness Walewinder)

This tastes great when served hot with a piece of chocolate brownie. You can also add your favourite spices there if you prefer.


  • 1/2 fresh raw pumpkin
  • 1 red apple
  • 1 small lemon
  • 1-inch piece ginger (skin removed)
  • 2 tbs organic pumpkin puree
  • dash cinnamon


  1. Combine all ingredients in a fruit and vegetable juicer
  2. Discard solids.
  3. Strain juice through a fine-mesh sieve before serving in glasses.
  4. Serve immediately with a chocolate brownie.


Chai tea latte

Chai latte (Image: Amm Praditsup)

Chai latte (Image: Amm Praditsup)

If you are not a big fan of coffee on cold days, try this amazing chai tea latte recipe. You can make it more sweet or more spicy according to your preferences.



  • 8 cardamom seeds
  • 8 cloves
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, sliced
  • 2 cups whole/almond/soy milk
  • 4 bags black tea


  1. Place the cardamom, cloves, and peppercorns in a resealable plastic bag.
  2. Crush them all with a heavy skillet.
  3. Place the crushed spices in a medium saucepan, along with the cinnamon sticks, ginger, milk, and 2 cups water and bring to a boil.
  4. Remove from heat, add the tea bags, cover, and let steep for 10 minutes.
  5. Strain into cups. To each cup, add 2 teaspoons sugar or more, to taste.


If you liked these recipes, don’t forget to follow Angess at Run Agness Run!

Have you tried any of these? What’s your favourite winter warmer drink? Comment below!

Sydney Metro: suitable for Australia’s biggest city?

Sydney Metro

This is part three of Building Sydney; an ongoing series on UrbanDuniya about major infrastructure projects in Australia’s largest metropolis.

Building Sydney logo

Anyone who has travelled to the major cities of Europe or Asia would be familiar with the excellent rapid transit systems that efficiently transport hundreds of thousands, or even millions of people daily. Sydney’s existing double-decker train system, while somewhat effective, cannot be considered a true mass rapid transit system due to the operating constraints of large carriages, relatively low frequency, and antiquated network that was built according to topography, not demography (the North Shore Line’s scenic but useless detour via Wollstonecraft and Waverton being a case in point).

Wollstonecraft Railway station (Image: Abesty)

Wollstonecraft Railway station (Image: Abesty)

It is perhaps inevitable that Sydney would eventually build a metro system like that of Singapore or Delhi, that accurately serves population centres where its needed, and provides fast rapid connections between suburbs (notably, not just to the city centre). The beauty of a metro system is that it to the local populace, it becomes a more attractive option than taking the car for short hops, or even longer ones across the congested heart of the city. Connections are easy – you’re never too far from a station above ground, nor too far from a interchange below ground, meaning that you don’t always need to “change at Central” to get from one part of the city to another.

Paris Metro Map. Note how the lines intersect and overlap, creating multiple possibilities to commute, rather than converging on one "Central Station" (Image: Metropolitan)

Paris Metro Map. Note how the lines intersect and overlap, creating multiple possibilities to commute, rather than converging on one “Central Station” (Image: Metropolitan)

The current proposal for the Sydney Metro is initially a line from Cudgegong Road in Rouse Hill, 50 kilometres north west of the CBD, to Epping and then along the existing Macquarie Park line terminating at Chatswood, where passengers could transfer to the North Shore line. Long term, the line would be extended below Crows Nest, under the harbour, past Central station, then joining a refitted train line to Bankstown.

Proposed Sydney Metro (Image: strata8)

Proposed Sydney Metro (Image: strata8)

Certainly a worthy project, but one that seems to be heavily integrated into the existing rail network; one hopes that measures are being taken to prepare the North Shore, Inner West and Western lines for the influx of passengers transferring from/to the new Sydney Metro.

Metro lines are successful in cities like Singapore and Paris because the urban footprint that they cover is not as large. Metro trains are high capacity, fast, frequent, and feature few seats because they’re not designed to be comfortable; they’re designed to move huge numbers of people quickly and with no fuss – standing room only, step on and step off.

Dubai's new metro trains. Limited seating means high capacity (standing passengers take up less space than seated ones), ideal for fast, short inner city trips (Image: Robert Schediwy, Wikimedia Commons)

Dubai’s new metro trains. Limited seating means high capacity (standing passengers take up less space than seated ones), ideal for fast, short inner city trips (Image: Robert Schediwy, Wikimedia Commons)

Metro trains therefore are a great idea for short trips – ones which really don’t require a car, but are too long to do on foot. A developed network also offers opportunities to transfer between lines and even modes of transport, so no-one is standing in one place on the carriage for too long. So is the 50 kilometre trip from Cudgegong Road to the CBD one that many commuters would like to undertake standing in a high-capacity carriage? (Considering that the only real opportunity to interchange would be with the Northern Line at Epping). Rather than stepping on and off, the carriage would continue to fill throughout the journey.

Sydney Metro Northwest (Image: Mqst north)

Sydney Metro Northwest (Image: Mqst north)

Surely, the frequent Sydney Metro system would make much more sense on the high-patronage Chatswood – Sydenham corridor, with the double-decker “Sydney Trains” carrying passengers out towards the more distant Cudgegong Road? (Much in the way the more cushy long-distance Sydney Trains are equipped to carry passengers to Newcastle and the Blue Mountains.)

Ron Christie Proposals for Sydney's railway lines (Image: JPG)

Ron Christie Proposals for Sydney’s railway lines (Image: JPG)

In fact, a complex network criss-crossing Sydney’s inner city, with several lines aiding short trips between existing corridors, would alleviate much congestion, both on the roads and at existing interchanges like Central station. Why not metro lines between the inner west and the eastern suburbs, bypassing the CBD? Lewisham to Marrickville without having to change at Central station? Leichhardt to Crows Nest, but not via the CBD? Some of these ideas were mooted and then dismissed as part of a 2002 report into Sydney transport needs, known as “the Christie proposals“.

Sydney Metro's Bella Vista station, under construction (Image: Mqst north)

Sydney Metro’s Bella Vista station, under construction (Image: Mqst north)

There’s a reason why Paris’ and London’s metro systems are world renowned, and that’s because they effectively serve their inner cities and have appropriate connections to the outer suburbs. They comprehensively cover an area which in Sydney would perhaps be bounded by Hurtsville in the south, Bankstown and Parramatta in the west, and Epping and Chatswood in the north. They don’t require people to stand in sardine-like conditions for 50 kilometres or more, emulating trips in metropolitan Singapore when they’re actually careering through the expanses of the Cumberland plain.

Sydney Metro Northwest is currently under construction and is expected to be operational in 2019. For more information, go to sydneymetro.info.

What do you think of the Sydney Metro? Is it needed? Comment below!

Recipe: Kerala Fish Curry

Last weekend I launched my second book, Recipes for Ramadan, through Amazon.com. Today, as part of the launch festivities, I’m giving away one of my favourite recipes from the book; it’s healthy and delicious, and so easy to make.

While fish is eaten across much of India, the southern Indian curries are distinctive for their use of ocean fish and coconut milk. This contributes to make this dish a refreshing change from the meat and cream heavy concotions of north Indian kitchens. The style of this particular dish originates in the state of Kerala, but is not dissimilar other south Indian cuisines, or indeed Sri Lankan or Maldivian.

You can find 64 more lip-smacking recipes in Recipes for Ramadan, yours from $24.99*; just click here!

Been curry recipes for Ramadan

Meen Curry (Kerala Fish Curry)

Serves 4, 40 minutes


  • 500g any white ocean fish
  • 2 teaspoons crushed garlic
  • 2 teaspoons crushed ginger
  • handful of curry leaves (in good supermarkets, or an Indian grocery store)
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 green chilies, split and deseeded
  • handful of spring onions, chopped
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind paste (in good supermarkets, or an Asian grocery store)
  • 2 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 500ml coconut milk
  • hot water
  • oil
  • handful of coriander leaves (optional garnish)


Serve with

boiled basmati rice

been curry recipes for Ramadan


  1. Heat some oil in a pan, then over medium heat, fry the ginger, garlic and curry leaves for 3 minutes
  2. Add the onion, spring onions and green chili to the pan, and stir fry until the onion starts to brown
  3. Add the tomato, coriander powder, turmeric, chili powder, salt and tamarind into the pan, along with ¼ cup of hot water. Cook for five minutes, constantly stirring.
  4. Add the fish pieces and a cup of hot water, and cook for five minutes.
  5. Cover the pan, reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes or until fish is cooked, stirring occasionally.
  6. Once the fish is cooked, add the coconut milk. Simmer for a further 5 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and allow to stand for 10 minutes
  8. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves on top, and serve with white rice

Recipes for Ramadan cover

*Price is in USD and does not include postage and handling. Price may vary according to exchange rates fluctuation, currency variation and region/territory-specific pricing as dictated by Amazon.com and CreateSpace.

Book launch: Recipes for Ramadan

Book launch: Recipes for Ramadan

Ramadan is my favourite month of the year, and at just under two months away, it’s approaching quickly. Far from being a difficult time of deprivation, Ramadan is a time to enjoy meals with loved ones, to make amends for the past year, and to start new things that I’ve been putting off for too long. It’s a time to think, to ponder, and to be inspired.

The Eid moon rises over Melbourne's west at the end of Ramadan 2014.

The Eid moon rises over Melbourne’s west at the end of Ramadan 2014.

Such is the inspiration of Ramadan that during the auspicious month two years ago I was inspired to compile a book of my favourite recipes from around the world. There would be 30 recipes from Asia, the Middle East and Australia, one for each day of the fast.

An image from Recipes for Ramadan, available soon!

Rooh Afza, Nimbu Pani and Watermelon Juice: from Recipes for Ramadan

However some of my favourite dishes from around the world aren’t meals at all; often they’re snacks, drinks or desserts. This required the book to be made of 30 meals from around the world. And I wanted to show how these recipes flow back into my travel experiences, both during and outside of Ramadan, in 40 different countries around the world. I read somewhere once that to eat the food of a nation is to take in its geography, its culture, its history and its reality in one sensual act. This is perhaps no truer than for the countries I have visited, and for the meals taken during Ramadan.

Tables groaning with food at a community iftaar in Dhaka, Bangladesh during Ramadan last year.

Tables groaning with food at a community iftar in Dhaka, Bangladesh during Ramadan.

What began to emerge was a recipe book that would also be a travel pictorial, and a spiritual introduction to the month of Ramadan. Recipes for Ramadan is the product of 10 months of listing, honing and compiling recipes, 2 months of intensive cooking and photography, and weeks of late nights spent formatting and editing. Special thanks at this point are due to my friends Ola and Mohammed Attar, without whose photography and editing skills the book would still be floundering on my computer desktop.

Spiced walnut pudding akhrot halva recipes for ramadan

Spiced walnut pudding; a favourite Pakistani dessert, featured in Recipes for Ramadan

Recipes for Ramadan is a recipe book, a travel diary and a cultural introduction, all linked together by the thread of the Muslim holy month. In all, it is 65 recipes from the Subcontinent, the Middle East, Central Asia, South East Asia and the West, littered with travel and cultural reflections.

Mutton Karahi; braised lamb in subcontinental spices, in Recipes for Ramadan

Mutton Karahi; braised lamb in subcontinental spices, in Recipes for Ramadan

The images and insights dictate that Recipes for Ramadan is ideal as a hard copy, not an e-book. It makes the perfect gift for anyone with an interest in food, travel or Muslim culture. An ideal coffee table piece, its striking, eye-catching design intrigues and invites all to delve inside and discover what it’s really all about. And the recipes included are all favourites, personally selected for their flavour, visual appeal and ease of preparation.

Dates on sale in Dhaka, Bangladesh, during Ramadan last year.

Dates on sale in Dhaka, Bangladesh, during Ramadan.

Recipes for Ramadan is a recipe book with a difference; recipes range from my mother’s casserole from my childhood, through to easy Indian, Pakistani, Arabic and Persian classics. There are also loads of new flavours to discover; learn how to make the national dish of Afghanistan, a Kyrgyz noodle soup, Bedouin-style lamb with rice, and coconut and pandan pancakes in a snap.

Nonya Ayam Kari; from Recipes for Ramadan

Nonya Ayam Kari; from Recipes for Ramadan

Simply, Recipes for Ramadan is all you need to experience a month of feasting, a life of journeys, and a world of flavours without leaving your home. And it’s available now, from Amazon.com, from $24.99*.

Click here to visit my online store, read more, and purchase your copy today.

Recipes for Ramadan cover


*Price is in USD and does not include postage and handling. Price may vary according to exchange rates fluctuation, currency variation and region/territory-specific pricing as dictated by Amazon.com and CreateSpace.